Tips for Maintaining Short Industrial Lead Times

Brittany Beckmann 1 Comment

We’ve all had those days. The ones where you walk into the office, and you get the email or phone call that turns your entire day into complete havoc because a customer submits an order that they need in two days. Things come up. We get it. So, here are some suggestions for dealing with short lead times that will make your life a little less stressful.

Planning Process

Applying continuous improvements to your planning process will enable your company’s ability to manage short lead times. An effective process should allow engineers to take a look at long-term needs and organize them accordingly, so everything comes together at the same time. Outsourced items more often than not require more time. It’s much easier to manage actions in-house, so take care of outsourced products towards the beginning of your project.


We’ve mentioned it in many of our previous blogs, but we’ll repeat it here, too. Communication is key. It’s crucial to have open lines of communication with your customer in maintaining any timeline, regardless of the time restraint. Consider setting up weekly meetings with your customer at the beginning of a project. This way, you have the opportunity to develop an intimate understanding of various lead times and overall project timelines specific to that customer.
This strategy enables a working relationship to grow between both you and your customer, so when your customer does have a project with a short lead time, you already know the process and can make necessary actions right away. To further analyze the severity of a given lead time, ask the customer for their “drop dead” date.
Remember, there are multiple communities of people with whom to coordinate. The load needs to be assessed by engineers upfront before a shop floor assessment, and there is a manner of priority to maintain.

LEAN Manufacturing

Although LEAN manufacturing stereotypically pertains to the fabrication floor, its implementation to the office has positively impacted communication and decreased time wasted. The LEAN initiative resulted in a logistical movement to enhance communal collaboration. Engineers, project managers, and purchasing all work in a large room with no cubicle walls. This presents an environment that involves everyone and naturally encourages participation.

We highly suggest investing in a shop floor scheduling program or system, if you have not already. An ideal shop floor scheduling program should be open to everyone, customized to the company and easy to access. It’s one of the main visual tools in initiating business knowledge and the intricacies of piece flow through the cell.

Unlike most manufacturers where machines use the same setup for days, or even weeks at a time, HUI’s method of making what you need when you need it results in smaller batch quantities, and therefore, more setups. Because LEAN manufacturing strives for continuous improvement, set up times rarely, if ever, deter the quality or quantity of the product.

At HUI, we know what it takes to manage short lead times without hindering the quality of your product. If you have a project design or redesign in mind, contact Ryan Arnold at today.

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